The following information was submitted to Perkiomen Valley Patch:
On June 10, Schwenksville resident Ted Danforth will set out on a 34-day solo motorcycle ride to Alaska. When he does he’ll put into action a trip he’s been dreaming about for more than a year, covering 12,000 miles along some of the most scenic roads in North America, while raising money and awareness for juvenile arthritis.
To date, he’s raised more than $4,000 for the Arthritis Foundation, targeted especially for juvenile arthritis. Even more important than raising money, he believes, is bolstering awareness about a disease that affects 300,000 kids in the US, but is often undiagnosed.
By the time he’s done with his round-trip adventure on July 13 he’ll have spent more than a month traveling, covering over 800 miles on his longest day. But the trip won’t all be spent sitting on a motorcycle. He’ll meet with fellow riders in Fargo & Bismarck, North Dakota, meet some kids at a function in Anchorage, participate in the 4th of July parade at the North Pole in Alaska, then end his trip by running in the 5K Jingle Bell Run, also in the North Pole. He’ll also meet with a host of people who have contacted him and offered support through his blog.
In fact, much of Danforth’s preparation for the trip has involved making connections. And he’s found that the most gratifying, and perhaps surprising, aspect of planning has been the network of people who have learned about his trip and sent in donations or offered to provide assistance or hospitality along his route. “Without a doubt, the most satisfying part of this so far has been the outpouring of support I’ve gotten from so many different people,” Danforth said.
Representatives of the Arthritis Foundation and the motorcycle community have pledged their support, but so have many others who have been inspired by his commitment to his cause, and by his sense of adventure. Danforth is no stranger to adventure. He has under his belt a solo kayaking trip along the coast of Maine, and a motorcycle expedition through Chile. But this will be his first cross-country solo ride. Danforth is the owner of a small environmental firm and former owner of Hidden River Outfitters, a business that offered paddling tours and instruction.
He’s kept his followers apprized of his training and fundraising advances through his blog at ja4ja.wordpress.com. Because he doesn’t know what challenges he might run into along the way, he intends to keep his schedule flexible.
He’ll pass by Lakes Michigan and Huron and go through Duluth, MN, Fargo, ND, Bozeman, MT; Calgary and the Yukon Territory, where he’ll participate in a Summer Solstice gathering before heading to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Throughout the trip he’ll blog about his experiences each evening, and post photographs of some of the striking scenery he’s sure to encounter.
Last summer, he kicked off his fundraising campaign with a visit to a camp for children suffering from the disease. He was impressed with their enthusiasm and their ability to cope with a difficult and sometime debilitating condition. “Although my children have been lucky and avoided the impact of arthritis, our family has been touched by the disease in other ways,” said Danforth, the father of three children. “I can’t help but think about what it would be like to be a parent and see your child go through this – each day bringing new challenges to all of those activities that we take for granted."
In fact, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the most common form of juvenile arthritis, is one of the most widespread childhood diseases in the United States.To learn more about Danforth’s trip, or donate to his cause, visit his blog at ja4ja.wordpress.com.